(Ashland, Ore.) Southern Oregon University (SOU) jumped 61 places in this year’s Sierra magazine “Coolest Schools” list, moving from #99 in 2010 to #38 of the 118 colleges and universities that participated in the magazine’s survey in 2011. Oregon State University and the University of Oregon are ranked #43 and #50 this year. SOU placed one tenth of a point behind Lewis and Clark College in Portland (#37), the highest ranked campus in Oregon.
According to Sierra magazine’s web site, the rankings are based on surveys that track energy supply, efficiency, food, academics, purchasing, transportation, waste management, administration, financial investments, and a catch-all called “other initiatives.” Each category was worth a maximum of 10 points, for a possible grand total of 100. SOU’s score was 68.3. The university’s highest category scores were a 9 in Other Initiatives and an 8.5 in Administration.
SOU’s Other Initiatives submission mentioned recent funding for the remodeling of an existing campus building into a waste sorting facility as well as funding for new recycling and waste bins on campus. The waste sorting facility is currently under construction and is scheduled to go into operation next month.
“Hopefully this (waste sorting facility) will put SOU on the path to having zero waste in five years,” says Misty Munoz, a senior majoring in environmental studies, and one of four students who launched the project through a classroom capstone project last fall overseen by Professor Mark Shibley.
Under the Administration category, SOU’s completed questionnaire cited the University’s strategic commitment to environmental sustainability, SOU’s green purchasing policy, the fact that SOU President Mary Cullinan is a charter signatory to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment and, as part of the commitment, SOU has set a target for achieving climate neutrality by 2050.
“This ranking reflects the commitment of SOU faculty, staff, and students,” said President Cullinan. “Our commitment to sustainable practices runs through everything we do at Southern Oregon University.”